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Rights of Citizens:
The Right to Vote

The most important right citizens have is the right to vote. Voting is the basis of a representative democracy. By voting, the people have a voice in government. The people decide who will represent them in the government. Officials can be voted in or out of office. Every person’s vote counts the same as another person’s vote.

Each citizen can register to vote in his/her community. Usually, there is a requirement that the citizen has lived in the state for a certain period of time. Each state has the power to decide which citizens in the state can vote. However, some voting rights are guaranteed by the Constitution. This means that states cannot deny the right to vote to anyone:

  1. Who is at least 18 years of age
  2. Because of his/her race, color or gender
  3. Because she/he has not paid a voting or poll tax
  4. In national elections for President and Vice President

States have the power to deny the right to vote to citizens who have been convicted of serious crimes or who are not able to make rational decisions. States cannot require citizens to pass a reading and writing test before granting the right to vote.